A Pilot Study Assessing the Impact of rs174537 on Circulating Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and the Inflammatory Response in Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury

Charlotte Mae K. Waits, Aaron Bower, Kelli N. Simms, Bradford C. Feldman, Nathan Kim, Susan Sergeant, Floyd H. Chilton, Pamela J. Vandevord, Carl D. Langefeld, Elaheh Rahbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability in persons under age 45. The hallmark secondary injury profile after TBI involves dynamic interactions between inflammatory and metabolic pathways including fatty acids. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have been shown to provide neuroprotective benefits by minimizing neuroinflammation in rodents. These effects have been less conclusive in humans, however. We postulate genetic variants influencing PUFA metabolism in humans could contribute to these disparate findings. Therefore, we sought to (1) characterize the circulating PUFA response and (2) evaluate the impact of rs174537 on inflammation after TBI. A prospective, single-center, observational pilot study was conducted to collect blood samples from Level-1 trauma patients (N = 130) on admission and 24 h post-admission. Plasma was used to quantify PUFA levels and inflammatory cytokines. Deoxyribonucleic acid was extracted and genotyped at rs174537. Associations between PUFAs and inflammatory cytokines were analyzed for all trauma cases and stratified by race (Caucasians only), TBI (TBI: N = 47; non-TBI = 83) and rs174537 genotype (GG: N = 33, GT/TT: N = 44). Patients with TBI had higher plasma DHA levels compared with non-TBI at 24 h post-injury (p = 0.013). The SNP rs174537 was associated with both PUFA levels and inflammatory cytokines (p < 0.05). Specifically, TBI patients with GG genotype exhibited the highest plasma levels of DHA (1.33%) and interleukin-8 (121.5 ± 43.3 pg/mL), which were in turn associated with poorer outcomes. These data illustrate the impact of rs174537 on the post-TBI response. Further work is needed to ascertain how this genetic variant directly influences inflammation after trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1880-1891
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • FADS variation
  • TBI
  • inflammatory cytokines
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • rs174537

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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